The final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup is set to be played on Thursday 11 May 2023 between Worthing and Bognor Regis Town.
Worthing vs. Bognor Regis Town
Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Final
Date: Thursday 11 May 2023
Venue: American Express Community Stadium, Village Way, Brighton, BN1 9BL
It’s been another season to remember for Worthing, with the Rebels coming agonisingly close to reaching the National League South Play-Off Final at the first time of asking.
Indeed, looking back on the league campaign just gone, despite the defeat to Oxford City in the semi-final, the significance of what the club has achieved isn’t lost on 24 year-old defender, Joel Colbran.
“Going into this season we didn’t really know what to expect,” said Colbran, “winning the league the way we did last year, and this being our first time at this level, I think the fans would have just been happy if we’d stayed up!
“So, I don’t think they were expecting us to be in the play-offs, but as a group we’ve got a lot of confidence in each other and there’s that strong chemistry.
“It was definitely still a disappointment to miss out on that final last weekend, there’s no doubt about that, but overall, it’s been such a great season and we’ve really relished the challenges that it's brought with it.”
When attributing credit for the side’s remarkable performances this season, Colbran is quick to spotlight the influence of manager Adam Hinshelwood.
“I’ve been with Adam since I joined Worthing when I was 18, and he’s been such a good manager to play under,” he said.
“He’s so determined, and he’s just got that passion and drive to win, which reflects onto us as a team, because all we want to do is win.
“He’s always quick to tell us how good we are and brings our confidence up, and the fact he knows what it takes to win is invaluable for us.
“Speaking personally, he’s definitely improved me as a player, in terms of how switched on out there on the pitch I am, and how best to use that aggression in my game, so yeah he’s had a really big influence on me, and really helped mould me into the player I am.”
Of course, Colbran is just one part of a Worthing defence that has been a key factor in their impressive consistency over the season.
“So much of that I put down to having the lads around me that I have,” said Colbran, “I’ve been playing with the likes Aarran [Racine] for four seasons now, so we always know what each other is going to do at any given moment and their style of play.
“But it also gives you that trust that you know you can rely on them in those difficult games throughout the season.”
Those difficult games have come thick and fast at times for the Rebels, but Colbran and his side were able to come up with the answers time and time again.
“Yeah, we’ve had plenty of tests along the way, there’s no doubt about that, but that just makes getting those wins even sweeter,” he said.
“Beating Braintree 2-1 in the quarter-final of the play-offs on that Tuesday night at a packed-out Woodside Road, doing the double over Dartford, beating Havant & Waterlooville 5-1, and getting that result away to Cheshunt at the end of the season, all these results are the ones that really stand out, and show just what we’re about as a team.”
That team spirit is going to be crucial tomorrow night if Worthing are going to be able to come away with a win against a tough Bognor Regis Town side, who await them in the Final of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup.
Yet for Colbran, his involvement in Sussex football goes beyond just playing in the final, with the defender captaining our Representative Squad back when he was just 16 years-old.
“Looking back, I just remember how I loved playing in those games,” said Colbran, “Paul Atkinson was the manager back then, and it was really playing for that side that was a big help in kick-starting my career by giving me that spotlight for the first time.”
Of course, it’s a far more experienced Colbran that will take to the Amex on Thursday night, and he’s under no illusions just how tough a test that battle against Bognor will be.
“Last season our clashes with Bognor were something of a regular occurrence with us being in the same league, but that’s been missed this year,” said Colbran.
“But we always know we’re in for a massive test when we face them, because no matter what, they always give 100%, so we’ll be relishing the test, that’s for sure.”
If Worthing are going to come away with a victory, Colbran knows that he and the rest of his backline are going to have to try and keep Bognor’s Nathan Odokonyero quiet, his 34 goals in all competitions this season have helped propel the Rocks to the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Final.
“Yeah, it's definitely going to be a good battle, but hopefully with the experiences we’ve had coming up against similarly deadly attackers in our division, we should be able to draw on that and really cause him and the rest of their forward line some problems.”
As the final draws ever closer, thoughts, especially for the Worthing faithful, naturally turn to events in the final this time last year, where the Rebels were beaten 4-2 by Brighton & Hove Albion, scuppering their bid for a league and cup double.
“That game will definitely be in the back of our minds going into tomorrow, there’s no doubt about that,” said Colbran, “the fact we got so far and were so close to getting over the line, it of course adds that little bit more motivation to make amends for last season.
“Naturally, with it being the derby the fans all want to win, that adds another layer of animosity to it, but we’ll just be treating it as we would any other game, going out there looking to do everything we can to get the win for our supporters.
“They’ve been incredible all season for us, home or away, and helped us through it, so it would mean a lot to get the win tomorrow night and repay that support they’ve shown us throughout the year!”
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